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length. Through these long hours of darkness, the native inhabitants of our little settlement usually seclude themselves in their respective huts; passing the time either in sleep, or in a state of stupid, passive inaction.
In fact, their temperament, disposition and manner of existence, are directly opposite to the characteristics of our wide-awake, hardworking, and far-seeing New Englanders, who would contrive, I doubt not, to live in plenty and even luxury, aye, and amass fortunes, withal, where these poor heathen are scarcely able to provide the humblest means of prolonging their miserable existence.
For many days after the completion of my hut, I was confined to my bed; hard labor and exposure to the weather, having caused my wound to swell and become inflamed to such a degree as to considerably alarm me. While suffering in this manner, I was, one day visited by a native whom I had never before seen, who seated himself by my bed-side, and having gone through a species of pantomime which I interpreted to mean that he was a physician or medicine-man, proceeded to to examine my
After carefully feeling the wound and the
surrounding flesh, in precisely the manner of the "medicine men of my own country; he raised his eyes to mine, looked as wise as an owl, and, giving his head the true professional wag,—which so frequently serves the doctor of civilized nations the double purpose of concealing his own ignorance, and impressing his patient with a sense of his great wisdom,—informed me by a second exhibition of dumb show, that the wound contained purulent matter, and must be opened.
He then produced a slender blade of polished bone shaped somewhat like a dagger, and, notwithstanding my reluctance to being operated upon in this summary manner, which I took no pains to conceal, plunged it, without ceremony, into the inflamed surface of the swelling.
To my great surprise, and to the intense delight of the "medicine man," a copious discharge of pus followed the withdrawal of the lancet, which almost instantly relieved the violent throbbing pain which had tortured me for the past twenty-four hours. Not satisfied with this, however, the doctor proceeded, as soon as the discharge had ceased, to probe the sore with a blunt pointed instrument of the same material as the lancet, and with which he
soon succeeded in extracting several splinters of bone!
These, he gave me to understand were portions of one of the ribs which had been fractured by the blow which I had received, and which my subsequent hard labor had caused to work into the flesh, thereby causing an irritation and a formation of matter.
He then bound up the wound with great care, and having signified his intention of making a second call on the morrow, and his desire that I should remain as quiet as possible for the present, departed with all the dignity of a regular M. D.
To my great satisfaction, his treatment of my wound effected, not only immediate relief, but a comparative cure, and in a few days I was able to leave my bed and attend to my household labors without difficulty. From that time, forward, during my residence in Siberia, I suffered but little from my wound, except when I irritated and inflamed it by severe manual labor; yet I am even now compelled to labor with great caution, and have no hope of ever being entirely free from the effects of this unmerited injury.
As soon as I was able to leave my hut, I be
gan to make frequent excursions into the surrounding country, in every direction, for the purpose of gaining all possible information in regard to this almost unknown region, its climate, soil and productions; and when the days became too short to admit of my spending more than a few hours each day, in this manner, I rendered the hours of darkness both pleasant and profitable, by visiting the natives and Russians in their homes, with the design of learning to speak their language.
In the course of a few months I had gained this desirable end, to an extent which enabled me to converse freely with the other inhabitants of the village, and thus during my short residence among them, I obtained a far better knowledge of the country and people than I could have done in a much longer time from my personal observation alone.
ARCTIC ROVINGS AND ADVENTURES.
Sad reflections The brighter side of the picture - Learning to speak the Russian language- A christmas dinner - Bears and wolves - A hunting adventure-Treed by the wolves - An uncomfortable night-A new comer-Escape, and return to the settlement.
It will be perhaps, a matter of surprise to the reader, that I do not more frequently, in these pages, dilate upon the feelings of sadness and distress which I must have experienced during my sojourn in that cold and dreary region, an exile from home and friends, and, virtually, shut out from communication with the whole civilized world, to which I had no certainty of ever returning.
I will not deny that I had many weary days and sleepless nights of sad and bitter reflection, when I allowed myself to dwell upon the darker side of the picture, and contrasted my present lot with the years of my happy childhood; but I am well aware that every human